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Ciro Villa
Testing this Universe - Philomath - U.S. Space Program
Testing this Universe - Philomath - U.S. Space Program


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Hubble's spies a cool galaxy with a hot corona, 150 million light-years from Earth

Galaxy NGC 6753, imaged here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is a whirl of color — the bursts of blue throughout the spiral arms are regions filled with young stars glowing brightly in ultraviolet light, while redder areas are filled with older stars emitting in the cooler near-infrared.

But there is more in this galaxy than meets the Hubble eye. At 150 million light-years from Earth, astronomers highlighted NGC 6753 as one of only two known spiral galaxies that were both massive enough and close enough to permit detailed observations of their coronas. Galactic coronas are huge, invisible regions of hot gas that surround a galaxy’s visible bulk, forming a spheroidal shape. Coronas are so hot that they can be detected by their X-ray emission, far beyond the optical radius of the galaxy. Because they are so wispy, these coronas are extremely difficult to detect.

Galactic coronas are an example of telltale signs astronomers seek to help them determine how galaxies form. Despite the advances made in past decades, the process of galaxy formation remains an open question in astronomy. Various theories have been suggested, but since galaxies come in all shapes and sizes — including elliptical, spiral, and irregular — no single theory has so far been able to satisfactorily explain the origins of all the galaxies we see throughout the Universe.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

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GMTO is hiring a Structural/Controls System Engineer to work within the Integrated Modeling team.

Primary responsibilities include: optimizing control systems, analyzing structure-control interaction, and system-level trade studies using an end-to-end coupled optical/control/structural simulation model. This model will be used for demonstrating telescope performance to requirements, and later, for verifying that the as-built telescope meets the performance requirements.

For more information or to apply, please visit:

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Fascinating! Astronomers estimate Fast Radio Bursts occur at least once every second somewhere in the entire observable Universe!

"When fast radio bursts, or FRBs, were first detected in 2001, astronomers had never seen anything like them before. Since then, astronomers have found a couple of dozen FRBs, but they still don't know what causes these rapid and powerful bursts of radio emission.

For the first time, two astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have estimated how many FRBs should occur over the entire observable universe. Their work indicates that at least one FRB is going off somewhere every second.

"If we are right about such a high rate of FRBs happening at any given time, you can imagine the sky is filled with flashes like paparazzi taking photos of a celebrity," said Anastasia Fialkov of the CfA, who led the study. "Instead of the light we can see with our eyes, these flashes come in radio waves."

To make their estimate, Fialkov and co-author Avi Loeb assumed that FRB 121102, a fast radio burst located in a galaxy about 3 billion light years away, is representative of all FRBs. Because this FRB has produced repeated bursts since its discovery in 2002, astronomers have been able to study it in much more detail than other FRBs. Using that information, they projected how many FRBs would exist across the entire sky."

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"The search for biology on neighbor planet Mars won't play out like a Hollywood movie starring little green men. Rather, many scientists agree if there was life on the Red Planet, it probably will present itself as fossilized bacteria. To find it, astrobiologists likely will need to decode the chemical analysis of rock samples performed by a rover (like the one NASA plans to send to Mars in 2020). Only then might humankind know conclusively that life exists beyond Earth.

A new paper in the journal Astrobiology suggests NASA and others hunting for proof of Martian biology in the form of "microfossils" could use the element vanadium in combination with Raman spectroscopy on organic material as biosignatures to confirm traces of extraterrestrial life."

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"(—Using data from the first-ever gravitational waves detected last year, along with a theoretical analysis, physicists have shown that gravitational waves may oscillate between two different forms called "g" and "f"-type gravitational waves. The physicists explain that this phenomenon is analogous to the way that neutrinos oscillate between three distinct flavors—electron, muon, and tau. The oscillating gravitational waves arise in a modified theory of gravity called bimetric gravity, or "bigravity," and the physicists show that the oscillations may be detectable in future experiments.

The researchers, Kevin Max, a PhD student at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and INFN Pisa, Italy; Moritz Platscher, a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Germany; and Juri Smirnov, a postdoc at the University of Florence, Italy, have published a paper on their analysis of gravitational wave oscillations in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters."

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"Astronomers have used ALMA to capture a strikingly beautiful view of a delicate bubble of expelled material around the exotic red star U Antliae. These observations will help astronomers to better understand how stars evolve during the later stages of their life-cycles."

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"Scientists at The University of Manchester have created the world's first 'molecular robot' that is capable of performing basic tasks including building other molecules."

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The Expedition 53 crew is getting ready for a trio of spacewalks while helping scientists understand what living in space does to the body.
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